Demystifying the Language of Uptime: 7 Types of Availability Solutions

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Multi-Site Fault Tolerance

This is the highest level of protection a workload can get as it provides fault tolerant availability at two different geographic locations. With this type of fault tolerance, there is zero end-user impact and no loss of state or data, but the redundant workloads are hosted in different sites (the sites can be in different rooms or floors of the same building, or in separate buildings on a campus, or even in different cities). This ensures your applications continue to run even if one of the sites fails due to power issues, flooding, etc. Naturally, there is a higher network cost to this type of solution, but when only the highest levels of no downtime will do this is the best solution available. In regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and financial services, a site-wide downtime can lead to breakdowns in a distributed supply chain, placing process compliance at risk, which compounds your downtime costs. That's why multi-site fault tolerance is the best availability option to ensure that all in-flight data is safely replicated and remains available at all times. 

Unlike other shifts in IT, the broad view of uptime is well understood. What has many IT pros confused is the myriad of options that exist to ensure the availability of their applications and achieve faster recovery times, consistent performance, and business continuity. From backup and disaster recovery, to high availability, to fault tolerance and more, a lot of confusion surrounds the differences between each type of availability solution and how IT teams can determine the best option for their business.

This gets even more complex when each category has a very broad definition within the industry. Take "high availability" for instance. Last year, a highly respected analyst firm issued a survey that said the majority of respondents believed that high availability meant having a disaster recovery plan in place. To someone who lives and breathes availability solutions, these are two very different things. The definitions will also fluctuate from person to person based on their history with different computing platforms – the IT guys working in the mainframe will define high availability very differently than those working in dev/ops. On top of this, for years research firm IDC has been using its own set of availability levels (AL1-AL4), but these are very broad as most technologies fall within just one of the availability levels and the levels haven't changed over time as technology has evolved.

In this slideshow, Jason Andersen, vice president of business line management, Stratus Technologies, will demystify the seven key types of availability solutions by clarifying what each one actually means. Keep in mind, when evaluating what you need, it is important that you consider not only what data is specifically being protected, but also the recovery time and infrastructure costs – mainly processing and networking – that your business can support.


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